MARTA unveils new railcars as bus-rapid transit expands across metro Atlanta

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 6:31 PM EST
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COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Friday, MARTA unveiled its new fleet of trains, set to be open for public ridership in 2025.

“It was time. Our fleet is aging. Some (trains) [are] roughly 40 years old,” said Collie Greenwood, CEO of MARTA, during a celebration in College Park on Friday.

Greenwood said the aging fleet accounts for roughly 65% of delays experienced by riders.

MARTA will replace its entire fleet over the next several years with 224 new railcars, purchased from Stadler in 2019 for $646 million.

Stadler constructed the railcars in Hungary. They will be outfitted in Salt Lake City before returning to Atlanta to go into service in 2025.

The main physical difference between the new fleet and the current trains is an open gangway with more room in between cars, allowing for easier transfers.

There will also be designated luggage and bike areas, along with digital signs and maps.

As MARTA awaits this new fleet, it continues expanding plans for bus-rapid transit across the Metro.

Bus-rapid transit has already been approved in Summerhill, the Campbellton Road corridor in southwest Atlanta, and into Clayton County.

A MARTA expansion project to the Clifton corridor near Emory University is also considering BRT as an option.

“I would say the future of MARTA is wherever the future takes us. We are ready to respond to the needs of the community bearing in mind things like the sustainability effect, the costs of building,” said Greenwood, in an interview with Atlanta News First, when asked if buses are the future of MARTA.

Many have voiced concern that light-rail is not expanding to these communities.

Greenwood is hopeful that once the public sees BRT, set to open first in Summerhill in 2025, the sentiment will improve.

“Summerhill is coming on line first and I think when people get a feel of the Summerhill BRT, they’ll better understand what that can do for the community,” said Greenwood.

Among Greenwood’s most pressing concerns is the immediate future of the Atlanta Streetcar.

MARTA pulled all streetcars from service earlier in December in light of potential safety concerns.

“We’re not going to have any mode of service out there that’s unsafe for our public, and when we discovered that this might be the case, we took all measures to stop it,” Greenwood said.

It must go through roughly 10 weeks of repair work before two weeks of test runs in Atlanta.

Greenwood said they hope to have the service up in March.